Two Book Circle Books

26 01 2011

I finally got back to the book circle list. I just finished September’s selection, Novel About my Wife by Emily Perkins and prior to that read Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie, Ina Rilke (trans.)

Novel About my Wife was an interesting read. The narrator, Tom, is a screenwriter who is struggling to deal with the loss of his wife, Ann. The novel describes the last few months of her life from Tom’s point of view. Tom’s career has foundered and he becomes increasingly desperate to get work, eventually making a decision that has tragic repercussions. I have to admit I found the protagonist irritating and rather shallow but I suspect this was the point. He loves his wife but never really knows her and he pays a huge price for his failure. The ending was somewhat ambiguous and a bit frustrating, leaving the reader to fill in gaps that Tom only sees when it is too late. Well written and a good read.

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress also deals with a man who ultimately fails to know the woman that he loves. Set in communist China at the time of the Cultural Revolution, it tells the story of two young men who are sent to a remote rural village to be “re-educated”. The education that they receive is quite different from what was intended when they find a collection of Western books and one shares them with his girlfriend, the Little Seamstress of the title. The harshness of life in the village is well described but I found the characters a bit one dimensional. I found myself wishing it had been written from the point of view of the Little Seamstress, since she is the character who changes the most in the course of the novel. But it was an interesting look at a time and place I don’t know much about and a pleasant change to read something that wasn’t 700 pages long.




One response

26 01 2011

I rather liked the Seamstress one too.

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